Not 'everyone is doing it'
The expert, dealer and cop weigh in on the University's drug culture
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 14:04
Though violations skyrocketed and campus culture created a drug-accepting environment, a large number of students are not even attempting to get high off one of the most popular drugs on campus: marijuana.
Drug law violations increased by 186 percent in the past 17 years, yet experts say the number of students participating in drug culture on campus has stayed relatively the same.
“The amount of people that smoke marijuana is not increasing on UVM’s campus,” said Diana Gonzalez, alcohol and other drug educator.
Police services have been making more consistent efforts to address and respond to policy violations since 2009, she said.
According to UVM Police Services:
- There has been a 56 percent increase in the past 10 years in drug law violations (2001 to 2011).
- 119 violations were distributed in 1994 compared with the 340 citations handed out in fiscal year 2011.
- 61 more citations were issued from UVM police for drug violations than liquor law violations in 2010.
Officer Skyler Genest said the increase is partially due to police services directing more of their focus on the problem. Officers have also observed a campus culture that is less concerned with the negative effects of getting caught with illegal drugs.
Drug culture on campus has become more visible even though the number of students doing drugs has not, Gonzalez said.
“Our self-reported information says that 70 percent of UVM students have not smoked in the past two weeks,” she said.
Gonzalez said students believe there are no consequences for their behavior and that drug use is the socially accepted thing to do.
These two things make the drug culture seem like it has a bigger presence than it actually does, she said.
When one or two people smoke pot on the green, for instance, and 50 people can smell it, they then come to the conclusion that “everyone is doing it,” Gonzalez said.
In an anonymous survey conducted by the Cynic, 37 percent of the students who participated said they have never smoked marijuana, and only 21 percent said they smoke “often.”
A number of anonymous student responses stated that they had at least tried smoking, but grew out of the habit as they entered their junior and senior years.
“I used to smoke in high school, but I don't anymore – ever,” one anonymous student stated. “Life is too short to waste my time high.”
Other students said they only participated in smoking socially, when others were around, or if they had been drinking.
“When people smoke marijuana, they drink more,” Gonzalez said. “It’s true nationally and at the university level.”
Gonzalez also expressed her concern that students involved in drug culture on campus are unaware that their actions have consequences.
“I am always surprised that people don’t know that smoking marijuana … can lead to losing your federal financial aid.”
In an email sent to students who have financial aid April 12, UVM Financial Services stated a federal or state drug conviction may disqualify a student from receiving federal financial aid.
“Please don't risk your health and financial aid eligibility by possessing, using or selling illegal drugs,” the email stated.
With drug culture becoming more casual on campus, the stereotypical, found-in-a-dark-alleyway drug dealer is not exactly the norm.
Sitting comfortably in the crowded Davis Center mid-afternoon, one sophomore student said the only thing that makes her nervous about dealing marijuana is texts or phone calls about it.
“It’s kind of silly [to text about it],” she said. “It incriminates you both. I get really nervous — people can tap phone lines.”